SIGMA tissue culture supplies

Rick Walker (
Tue, 01 Mar 1994 17:15:32 -0800

Jeff Welch writes:

> I just called the Sigma customer service line and told them I
> was thinking of setting up a plant tissue culture lab this summer, that
> this was not related to my work (where I do use Sigma reagents), and
> could I order tissue culture stuff from them. The answer was fine, no
> problem, we accept VISA and Mastercard, and do you want to go ahead and
> set up an account now or just use a misc. small order account.

They are perfectly happy and pleasant to take an order. The "security
clearance" bit doesn't start until after you've placed the order. A
friend of my works at a large company and requested that his orders be
delivered there. SIGMA called his secretary back and asked if the
company was doing tissue culture work. She said, "No. My boss does
that at home". SIGMA cancelled the order and placed this gentleman on
their "blacklist".

I just went through the approval process, and fortunately had better
luck. I recommend being absolutely above-board with SIGMA. They *will*
research any claim you make before giving you an account.

It turns out that SIGMA tightened their policies significantly around
mid 1993. Here's the scoop on ordering tissue culture supplies from

Their current policy is to not sell *any* chemicals for use in the home.

There only exceptions (that I was able to get them to tell me) are:

1) you work at a research institution, and the order is to be
delivered and used at that institutional location.

2) your "lab space" is certified by your local fire department.
(Nearly impossible to get unless you have a lab which is
built separate from your home).

3) you are a hobbiest propagating orchids. (It *must* be orchids,
Nepenthes, etc *do not* qualify.

4) you have a nursery license at your residence.

They are concerned that the labelling on their chemicals does not meet
regulations for home use. They are also concerned that once you have an
open account that you may order from their non-plant related product
lines and buy drug/bomb-related or other hazardous chemicals.

They told me that they were discussing having a "limited" clearance for
plant enthusiasts, which would allow them to only buy from the tissue
culture catalog, but that this is still undecided. I tried to lobby
them to extend their orchid clause to include CP :-), but had no luck.

Finally, I was able to get clearance only because I have a nursery
license. This was fairly easily obtained, without a fee, from my local
county agricultural commission. The fee was waived because my annual
sales are less than $500.00. If you want to order from SIGMA, this may
be the way to go.

(I'm not sure it was worth the trouble just to get a case of baby-food
jars, lids, and some agar...)